Tony Perkins / January 20, 2015

When Freedom Doesn’t Ring

While Americans celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr., the rest of the world is a long way from his peaceful legacy. Terror swept across Africa and Asia over the weekend, as radical Muslims set fire to churches, smashed glass, destroyed villages, and brutally murdered innocent Christians in protest of France’s Charlie Hebdo. Pastor Zakaria Jadi, whose church was engulfed in flames, told the BBC, “I just rushed and told my colleagues to take away their families from the place… When I came back I just discovered that everything has gone. There’s nothing in my house and also in the church.” In Niger, there were smoldering ashes where 45 churches used to be, charred bodies inside one Cathedral, and a Christian orphanage leveled in retaliation for the West’s millions-strong march for freedom.

While Americans celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr., the rest of the world is a long way from his peaceful legacy. Terror swept across Africa and Asia over the weekend, as radical Muslims set fire to churches, smashed glass, destroyed villages, and brutally murdered innocent Christians in protest of France’s Charlie Hebdo.

Pastor Zakaria Jadi, whose church was engulfed in flames, told the BBC, “I just rushed and told my colleagues to take away their families from the place… When I came back I just discovered that everything has gone. There’s nothing in my house and also in the church.”

In Niger, there were smoldering ashes where 45 churches used to be, charred bodies inside one Cathedral, and a Christian orphanage leveled in retaliation for the West’s millions-strong march for freedom. Non-Muslim businesses, schools, and restaurants were looted – or, worse destroyed. “Some of us stayed barricaded in our homes,” said a Christian mechanic. “I have never been so scared in my life.” For Pakistanis, the riots hit a fevered pitch when a photographer was shot and others tried to breach the French embassy with guns. The violence is so widespread that the counter-protests “have claimed nearly as many lives as the attacks that inspired them,” laments one reporter.

Next door in Nigeria, families lucky enough to survive the nightmare of Boko Haram watched helplessly as the barbarians, yelling “Allah is great!” set fire to almost a hundred homes and took 50 hostage. Another suicide bomber detonated in town, massacring four and wounding 35 others. “We are dealing with barbaric people, lawless people,” said one Cameroonian. “Nothing can prevent them from assassinating.” On Saturday, Niger’s president was beside himself that Christians were targeted. “Those who loot these places of worship, who desecrate them and kill their Christian compatriots have understood nothing of Islam.”

Meanwhile, the media seems quick to rally around Charlie – but what have they said about these Christians? Will there be protests and newspaper headlines across Europe and the U.S. for the tens of thousands of Christians brutally slaughtered, tortured, or forced to flee their country for their faith? While it’s important to stand up for our freedoms, we cannot ignore the one from which all others spring: the freedom of religion. President Obama is particularly guilty of this, as his administration continues its own march to sanitize the public square of faith.

Yet on occasions like Friday’s Religious Freedom Day, words hardly matched up to the White House’s actions. “The First Amendment prohibits the Government from establishing religion,” the President proclaimed. “It protects the right of every person to practice their faith how they choose, to change their faith, or to practice no faith at all, and to do so free from persecution and fear… Promoting religious freedom has always been a key objective of my administration’s foreign policy…”

Could have fooled us. The world is in tatters, in part, because the United States hasn’t led on the very liberty this nation was founded on. Fortunately, it’s never too late to start. Let’s hope these latest atrocities push the United States to pick back up the torch of freedom and use it to light the way for our nation – and others.

A Legacy Fit for a King

Just how important is religious liberty? Without it, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. wouldn’t have had the freedom or the platform to overcome racial oppression. More than 50 years later, Americans feel that familiar strain after a string of racially-charged events that threaten some of Dr. King’s greatest accomplishments.

But while the times may have changed, the solutions have not. As several white and black leaders concluded in Dallas last week, there is one path to true racial reconciliation: the church. Only it can bring about the harmony both communities seek. As the Rev. King reminded us in Strength to Love, “The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state.”

What motivated Rev. King and powered his movement was Scripture – an understanding that “darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.” Civil rights could not have been achieved if that light, that religious liberty, had been extinguished. It’s what enables the church to speak out today on behalf of marriage, the unborn, the downtrodden, and the persecuted.

Rev. King understood then, as we do now, that religious freedom is fundamental to every other freedom on earth. And without that rich tradition, Rev. King’s mighty vision would have been just another dream.

Life Support for Pain Ban…

What better way to celebrate life than protect it? House leaders aim to do exactly that on this solemn but meaningful week for pro-lifers in Washington, D.C. On the same day as the March for Life, members are taking their own steps to stop the destruction of innocent unborn life. Under Rep. Trent Franks’s bill, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, the U.S. would draw the line at five months for legal abortion, which is when scientists agree babies experience excruciating pain.

“By eight weeks after fertilization, the unborn child reacts to touch,” the bill’s text reads. “After 20 weeks, the unborn child reacts to stimuli that would be recognized as painful if applied to an adult human, for example, by recoiling.” For now, the House is expected to vote on a version of the bill which passed Congress before, which does contain a rape and incest exception if reported to the appropriate legal authorities. A few have objected that there should be no reporting requirement, but that creates a loophole where abortionists could use the exception to circumvent the law – which would defeat its purpose.

In the meantime, our friends on the Hill are doing their best to get the bill across the finish line and onto the President’s desk – where a veto would be a revealing move to most Americans, who support the ban by wide margins. “These are innocent and defenseless children who can not only feel pain, but who can survive outside of the womb in most cases, and who are torturously killed without even basic anesthesia,” Franks said. “Many of them cry and scream as they die, but because it’s amniotic fluid going over their vocal cords instead of air, we don’t hear them.”

An almost identical bill passed the House by 32 votes two years ago. Now, with GOP majorities, the House is making it priority number one to send the measure to the Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) already promised to bring it up for a vote. You can help move things along by contacting your representatives and urging them to support H.R. 36!


This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Mr. Perkins is president of FRC.

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